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EN: Fate, Destiny, Circle

Posted June 11, 2018

Take a look at the inspiration behind Jessica Lang’s first work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Choreographer Jessica Lang has been connected to the Ailey company for over 20 years. Even her first date with her husband, Company member Kanji Segawa, involved Ailey. Segawa told her, “Well, my dream is to be in the Ailey company (it was in December) – let’s go see them at City Center,” and they did. At the time, he was a student at The Ailey School and Lang had just choreographed her first ballet on a professional company, ABT Studio Company.

When Robert Battle commissioned Lang to create a new work for the Company to premiere at Lincoln Center, she realized it would also be her 100th ballet. Right away, she went to her husband to discuss what the piece should be about. The fact that they discussed the work together before she began creating it is nothing new; their collaboration has been a part of Lang’s choreographic process from the beginning of their relationship.

Segawa has seen and advised on every single one of her works, including EN, which is a Japanese word he suggested as the title. “We work very well together, it’s just something that’s an extension of our relationship,” says Lang. “You know we love each other, then we both love our work, and our work happens to be the same.” One thing that is unique about the couple working on this piece together is that Segawa, in addition to being her choreographic assistant, will also be performing in the piece when it premieres at Lincoln Center.

The title EN has multiple meanings in Japanese, explains Lang, “It can mean circle and also fate, destiny and karma.” The word itself expresses the many connections that Lang and Segawa have, not just to each other, but to the people and the world around them, which has served as the primary inspiration for the piece.

Lang’s connections to the Ailey company reach beyond her husband. While studying dance at The Juilliard School, she met Mr. Battle, and they studied dance and choreography from the same teachers. Also, while at Juilliard, she choreographed her very first work on her fellow student and friend, Glenn Allen Sims, who is now a long-time Ailey company member.

Of all of these connections, Segawa says, “We are very fortunate to have met so many wonderful people that are still in our lives over these past 20 years. Back then, we didn’t know what that means, how everything comes together. We feel like this is the moment when everything comes full circle.”